Men should wait until after the age of 55 before starting PSA (prostate specific antigen) screening for prostate cancer if at all, a new study has concluded.
Some countries recommend an annual test from the age of 50, but the UK believes the test is too inaccurate, as the risks can outweigh any benefits, and the new study agrees.
The PSA is a blood test that is highly inaccurate, and can see five cancers that aren`t actually there for every one that is, say researchers from Erasmus University in Rotterdam.
A positive test even if it accurate triggers treatments that can leave the man incontinent or impotent, and for a disease that is often slow-growing and isn`t usually an immediate danger to life.
The researchers tracked the progress of 6,822 men who were screened when they were aged between 55 and 59 and until they reached 75. Initial screening suggested that 189 of the men had prostate cancer, and by the end of the trial, 40 had actually died from the cancer.
The researchers reckon that just 10 per cent of men would benefit from screening before the age of 55; the vast majority wouldn`t benefit, and indeed may have unnecessary treatment that could ruin their life.
(Source: Proceedings of the 7th European Multidisciplinary Meeting on Urological Cancers, Barcelona, November 14, 2015)